Tornadoes can strike without warning, and leave a trail of destruction in their wake within a matter of minutes.
In 2015 there were 1,153 tornados in the U.S. that caused billions in damage and led to the death of 36 people, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, unlike flood damage, tornado damage is typically covered by regular homeowner’s insurance. Still, many insurance companies deny and underpay tornado insurance claims.
In order to make sure that your insurance company doesn’t try and pull a fast one on you, be sure to know your insurance policy, and make sure to do the following four things in the immediate aftermath of a tornado.
1. Check for Injuries
The most important thing to do following a tornado is to check yourself and the people with you for injuries, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). If you or someone with you is injured, only begin treatment if you are a trained medical professional. Otherwise, contact emergency services, inform them of the injuries, and wait for first responders to arrive. In cases where someone is severely injured, do not move them unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
2. Listen to Emergency Officials
Despite the awesome power of tornados, many tornado-related injuries occur after the tornado is over. After one twister in Illinois, the CDC found that 50 percent of the tornado-related injuries occurred after the tornado was over. Falling debris, rogue nails, and downed power lines are just some of the dangers that lurk around every step in the wake of a tornado. Because of these dangers, it is imperative to follow the instructions of emergency officials. The requests of emergency officials could range from calls for volunteer assistance to imploring that everyone remain indoors. Walking about in the wake of a tornado could hamper relief efforts or, even worse, lead to personal injury after surviving one of the most powerful natural events nature has to offer. The Red Cross recommends that people turn on their battery-powered radio or television to get the latest emergency information and instructions for what to do going forward.
3. Check for Damage
Following a tornado, it is important to check your home to assess if it is safe to remain there and to ensure further damage does not occur.
Tornados could damage the water, gas, and electrical systems in your home, and if those systems are not shut down in time they could lead to even more damage. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, leave your home immediately, and inform the gas company or first responders. If there are frayed wires, be sure to shut down your main circuit breaker to prevent a fire. While searching your home, the CDC recommends using a flashlight, as opposed to a candle in order to avoid fires or explosions if there is a gas leak.
4. Take Pictures for Insurance
Tornados are typically covered by regular homeowner’s insurance, but insurance companies could still try and get away with underpaying or denying your claim. In order to ensure this doesn’t happen, it is important to take pictures of everything and meticulously document the damage to all of your property and possessions. If you do have temporary repairs done, be sure to save the receipt.
If your insurance company denied or underpaid your claim, the attorneys at Morgan & Morgan may be able to help. Contact us today for free, no obligation case evaluation to find out if your insurance company is being honest with you about your claim.